Author: marsjess

Public Perceptions of Sexual Violence and the LGBT Community

Warning: This post contains sensitive content related to sexual violence.

2017 has been a year of renewed attention to sexuality, but in a different context than usual. From public protesting of sexual harassment at the Golden Globes to the resurgence of the #MeToo movement, people of all genders and sexual orientations have banded together to reclaim their sexual rights and fight against injustices in the face of political oppression. In fact, the problem of sexual violence has garnered so much attention that Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” is the Silence Breakers– those individuals that, while unique, all shared a common story of sexual harassment or abuse. We know from research that sexual violence is an especially pertinent problem for sexual and gender minority persons, who are victimized at similar or higher rates than heterosexual counterparts. But what happens when LGBT identities are brought into the conversation as perpetrators?

When Kevin Spacey was accused of harassing young men, he took the opportunity not only to apologize, but also to publicly identify as a gay man. Some outspoken LGBT figures have claimed that this admission was little more than an attempt to “hide under the rainbow” instead of taking responsibility. Now we are forced to wonder how that reflects on our communities. As identities that have historically (and inaccurately!) been stereotyped as focused on sex, LGBT identities have often been marginalized and reduced to erroneous and demeaning stereotypes. However, we can also recognize the tension between avoiding this stereotype and the fact that sexual assault is, has been, and will likely continue to be a problem within the LGBT community. Given this tension, are LGBT individuals now portrayed in an even worse light when someone accused of sexual harassment apologizes and self-identifies in the same breath?

What we can take from this movement, in the midst of all the negative and “fake” news floating around these days, is that these important issues are being discussed. People of all genders and sexual orientations are standing up for their rights, sexual and otherwise. But here at GLMA, we’re interested in linking these discussions to what we know- so we’d like to put out a call to our readers. Do you know of research linking these ideas? How might these misguided ideas of identity and behavior be inaccurately reflected in future policy and stereotype reinforcement? What are your opinions, and how can we move forward in a positive and non-re-traumatizing manner?

For anyone who needs it, resources to LGBT friendly sexual violence resources.

The Worth (and Work) of Networking

The concept of networking can seem obscure or even daunting at first. Jessica Marsack is a PhD student with the School of Nursing and Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities at the University of Michigan. She explains (with tips) that once you get started, the time you put in to networking leads to valuable rewards.


As a new (and current) graduate student I was often told to go to conferences, not only to learn about the newest research, but also to “network”. While this is a commonly used phrase, I find it is less commonly explained. There are certainly prescribed avenues for networking at conferences, such as meet and greet sessions or “speed dating” activities. However, I don’t believe networking has to be a formal encounter. While attending the 2016 conference of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), I informally asked if Dr. Peggy Chinn, one of the nursing summit leaders, would like to have dinner and chat about the conference. She agreed, and this actually turned into a dinner with the entire GLMA nursing section leadership board. At this dinner I learned about the opportunity to become a student representative on the GLMA nursing section leadership team, and eagerly accepted an invitation to join. As a student representative I have been involved in the behind the scenes work of a national organization, and learned new skills such as website design and conference planning considerations- none of which would have been possible without that initial networking opportunity.

“I don’t believe networking has to be a formal encounter. While attending the 2016 conference of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), I informally asked if Dr. Peggy Chinn, one of the nursing summit leaders, would like to have dinner and chat about the conference. She agreed, and this actually turned into a dinner with the entire GLMA nursing section leadership board”

Networking may seem intimidating to some- especially graduate students, who often suffer from “imposter syndrome”. Being surrounded by big names within the scientific community can be intimidating, and it may feel like you aren’t important enough for their time or attention. However, my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. Scientific conferences are designed for people to discuss and share their work, so even the “big names” in your field are expecting people to engage them in discussion. Everyone I’ve networked with at conferences has been friendly and open to conversation, and suggested avenues for research or posed questions I had not considered. In this way, networking can provide opportunities for bettering yourself and your research. Your networking can also turn into new skills and opportunities that might not arise any other way.

“My experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. Scientific conferences are designed for people to discuss and share their work, so even the “big names” in your field are expecting people to engage them in discussion.”

If you’re feeling nervous, it can help to pick something concrete to start a conversation about. Ask a specific question about a poster presentation or talk your person of interest presented. If that question relates to your research, you can segue into talking about your work if that is your goal. If they aren’t presenting anything, simply asking people about their newest project or future research interests generally catches the focus of fellow scientific minds. These informal networking techniques can lead to new possibilities you may not achieve through other means. As intimidating as it may seem, both you and your research will benefit in the end- and you are worth it.